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Prospectus» Forums » Variants

Subject: Two Prospectus variants: EZ-Teach and Visible High Council Bonus rss

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Gil Hova
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I love Prospectus! It's become my favorite cube tower game, and one of the best stock market games in my collection.

That said, there are a couple of variant rules I've adopted that make the game work better for my group and me. Maybe they'll help you too?

EZ-TEACH VARIANT

This is a tough game to learn. There's a lot going on in the base ruleset, with six actions on a turn (some repeated), and the special powers from cards and High Council sales. Hardcore gamers are okay with it, but most gamers I play with prefer a smaller learning curve.

So when I teach the game to new players, I do the following:

Round 1 has no Spell Cards; I do not deal them out, and we skip the Cast Spell step entirely. Also, while players are allowed to sell to the High Council, they get no powers, I do not deal out the Potion Ability Tokens yet.

So for a player's first turn, they only have to worry about the difference between a transaction and a high council sale, and how the Future Cards works, especially with dividends. (EDIT: We do advance dividends from the first round on.)

At the start of Round 2, I deal out the Potion Ability Tokens and explain them all. If the Spell Card Trade potion ability comes out, I just tell them that it has no effect this round.

So for a player's second turn, they now can get powers when selling potions to the High Council, but they still cannot Cast Spells.

At the start of Round 3, I have everyone pick up their deck of cards. We go through the card discard dance, discarding 2 cards for a 3p game, and 4 cards for a 4p game, as we've already played 2 rounds.

At this point, we're properly playing Prospectus, but players have been eased into the more complex elements of the game.

VISIBLE HIGH COUNCIL BONUS

The previous variant is just for new players, but this variant is for everyone.

One thing I find strange about the high council bonus is how everything is hidden. Prospectus' appeal is that it has a transparent cube tower, so its contents are not hidden trackable information (HTI). So I think it's a little weird that endgame scoring is HTI instead.

So if you're a player who doesn't like HTI or memory elements in your 2+ hour strategy game (like me), try the following variant:

Instead of placing cubes in the Council Chamber beneath the door, place them out in the open, in the area of the board above the Futures Cards.

At the end of the game, drop all cubes in the Council Chamber into the crystal ball. What comes out is the endgame bonus.

So we still have uncertainty here, but it's equal uncertainty for all players, and there is some agency over it; it makes playing Adjunge Decoctum (add 2 cubes to the drop) late in the game very interesting, as those cubes may come out of the tower for the endgame bonus.

I hope you enjoy these variants, and I look forward to my next play!
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Chaddyboy
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Good ideas on the EZ teach to ease people into the game. Thanks! I might use this when demoing a game at Gen Con to get them rolling faster.

For your High Council bonus variant, I personally prefer the big reveal and being somewhat surprised by it! I just like the hidden information to avoid AP in people that might otherwise sit there counting out their optimal move. There are very very few people that can accurately keep track in the midst of everything else going on in the game, so I've found the memory element typically leaves folks on an even playing field, while reducing AP quite a bit since no one can sit there counting every cube. Everyone generally has some sort of rough idea though.

However, this is a good alternative for people who want to bean count a little more to always make a more optimal play, rather than play from their gut/vague memory. Probably a lot of crossover as well with people that would prefer to play without player screens.

Really glad you're liking the game!
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Gil Hova
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chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
For the optional High Council bonus, I personally prefer the big reveal and being somewhat surprised by it! I just like the hidden information to avoid AP in people that might otherwise sit there counting out their optimal move. There are very very few people that can accurately keep track in the midst of everything else going on in the game, so I've found the memory element typically leaves folks on an even playing field, while reducing AP quite a bit since no one can sot there counting every cube.


Yeah, I hear you! The fact that these cubes go through the crystal ball means there's still uncertainty, so that limits the AP. You know the bounds, but the exact value is uncertain.

I still play with the player screens, because it doesn't seem as rewarding or interesting to track player's inventories. But knowing what's in the High Council seems pretty important, and I find it more fun to make decisions based on that.

But that's why these are variants! Thanks again for a great game.
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Jason
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I FINALLY got my copy to the table this week, and I used the E-Z teach variant since none of the four of us knew how to play.

(Edit: As per the thread below, I missed the $100 of starting money. So most of my post below isn't really valid for a proper play of Prospectus.)

I think it's a great idea, but I will note it has side-effects. To me, it seemed to speed up teaching at the cost of slowing down the economy of the game. The first two turns went fairly quick (probably much much quicker than they would have with players grappling with the full ruleset when making their decisions). The subsequent turns were also mostly quick. I think we got it done in 2.5-3 hours with teaching and some interruptions for food and such.

The final winning score was 300, I think. I was very close behind, but my problem is that the winner had 6 green cubes left and I had 5, so we were both scoring off the same thing.

What I mean by the economy slowing down was that it really felt like it took forever for us to have much to do with potions. We were always out of them or only had a few. I know for my own part I was often scraping bottom with just a potion or two behind my screen for most of the game.

Of course, writing it now I question whether it was the lack of high council powers and spell card actions that caused the slowdown. Perhaps we should have been doing far more "sell to high council, buy potion(s) in first transaction that you think it going to go up in price, then sell those (or other) potions after the future card is executed."

It's my first play, so I won't draw too many conclusions. But I'm tempted to add an extra round to the game. With four players, it just seemed like we were only just getting the hang of it when the game was over.
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Jason
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Oh, and one clarification - did you advance dividends from the start of the game with the E-Z Teach? Re-reading it now I think you must have, but when I was first teaching it that was something I missed. You might want to make that clear.
 
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Gil Hova
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jepmn wrote:
Oh, and one clarification - did you advance dividends from the start of the game with the E-Z Teach? Re-reading it now I think you must have, but when I was first teaching it that was something I missed. You might want to make that clear.


I did! Thanks for catching that.
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Chaddyboy
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jepmn wrote:
What I mean by the economy slowing down was that it really felt like it took forever for us to have much to do with potions. We were always out of them or only had a few. I know for my own part I was often scraping bottom with just a potion or two behind my screen for most of the game.

Of course, writing it now I question whether it was the lack of high council powers and spell card actions that caused the slowdown. Perhaps we should have been doing far more "sell to high council, buy potion(s) in first transaction that you think it going to go up in price, then sell those (or other) potions after the future card is executed."

I'm curious if you played something incorrectly, as getting your cash sunk into potions is usually fairly rapid at the outset.

1) You start the game with three potions and $100.
2) In your first transaction, you can typically buy 3 potions (or maybe 4 if you're not the start player and something decreased in value before your turn) for around $60 total.
3) With your second transaction of your turn, you can easily sink the rest of your starting money, meaning it's pretty common to have around 8 potions at the end of your first turn if you want to get all your starting cash invested.

It would be extremely rare to play the entire game with only a potion or two behind your screen, as it would just mean you have a pile of uninvested cash sitting around (which is typically a recipe for losing), so I'm just ensuring you played correctly. It's generally very common for players to have 15-20 potions owned when the game ends, or more if a split happened at some point.
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Jason
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AUGH

I looked THREE times for starting money and could not find it. One time in specific response to someone asking me!

*facepalm*

Edit: I think because every time I looked again, I looked BELOW the white callout box for three/four player game, where it tells how to give everyone their starting potions. I kept thinking it would be there, I guess.
 
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Chaddyboy
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jepmn wrote:
AUGH

I looked THREE times for starting money and could not find it. One time in specific response to someone asking me!

*facepalm*

Edit: I think because every time I looked again, I looked BELOW the white callout box for three/four player game, where it tells how to give everyone their starting potions. I kept thinking it would be there, I guess.

Well that explains that!
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Jason
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chaddyboy_2000 wrote:
jepmn wrote:
AUGH

I looked THREE times for starting money and could not find it. One time in specific response to someone asking me!

*facepalm*

Edit: I think because every time I looked again, I looked BELOW the white callout box for three/four player game, where it tells how to give everyone their starting potions. I kept thinking it would be there, I guess.

Well that explains that!


A suggestion for clearly incompetent rule-readers like me: show instead of tell. Well, do both. I really like those manuals that graphically show you the starting components using pictures of the components themselves. Since starting stuff is often something you have to refer to a lot even once you remember the rules, it's great to have it jump out off the page at you.

Thanks for the help. My next game should be much more interesting.
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